History

The historical location and the lands of Podere Marrontorto sit on the western side of the Valdarno valley, in the Chianti hills, at a height that ranges from 440 to 480 m. The estate is bounded by a rugged wooded area whose centre is called Orma del Diavolo (Devil’s Footprint) and where il Borro dei Diavoli (the Devil’s stream) and il Borro della Pozza dei Diavoli (the stream of the Devil’s puddle) flow. This devilish toponymy derives almost certainly from a “demonization” of an ancient place of pagan worship; sustained by both the prolonged civic use of the woods in the area, as evidenced by the section of the still existing “via del commune” (track of the city hall), and in the remains of the original layout (symmetry, wells, “caves”) of Tribolino.

Between the end of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth century, a charcoal burner from Gaiole in Chianti named “Tribolino” Corsi, understood that selling his coal in Valdarno could be more profitable than continuing to sell it in the villages of Chianti and invested the family savings in a cart with which he carried his coal to the market of Montevarchi.

The business went so well that he began to sell also the coal produced by others.

So, first, he moved to the physical boundary between Chianti and Valdarno, using a building owned by the Prince Stanislaw Poniatowski in Badia a Coltibuono, and then he acquired an ancient ruin near the Borro dei Diavoli and close to one of the two roads that connects Chianti to the Valdarno valley. He then transformed it: the ruins became the stables, the warehouse and the headquarters of the company.

Later he bought the surrounding lands for tilling and cultivating vines and olive trees.

Thus was born the first nucleus of the Podere Marrontorto, a name chosen by its founder which refers to a well next to a big twisted chestnut tree (marrone) who considered the old name “Borro de’ Diavoli” unsuitable for the company headquarter: but after things went differently since everyone began to call the place by the name of the owner “Tribolino” [in Chianti was added later] and Podere Marrontorto remained only as the trade name of the company.

The beginning of the agricultural activity of our company is therefore antecedent to the ruins on which was rebuilt Tribolino, but between 1885 and 1914 the quality of the oil produced from the Podere Marrontorto was already known even outside of the local area, so much so that in the construction of the new road, the Follonica-Montevarchi, it was chosen a path that would pass in front of the main building of the farm and – really unusual – was allowed the farm to maintain a direct access to the old ridge trail, by providing a small stairway inside the retaining wall of the overlying Poggio di Sopra.

Since Tribolino was sitting on the main communication route between the agricultural Chianti and Montevarchi (which was home to one of the largest agricultural markets in Tuscany), it meant that, thanks also to the contribution of the Martini family that moved here from Florence, the rooms previously used as coal deposit would evolve into one of the liveliest osteria in the area. Among the regulars, the powerful supervisor of Castello di Brolio, … Raspini, who allegedly never skipped a Thursday (market day) and Attilio Sassi, anarchist syndicalist leader first in Brazil and then in Italy, co-founder with Giuseppe Di Vittorio of the Unione Sindacale Italiana (Italian Trade Union), which held here some of the most important meetings during the trade union struggles that led in 1919 by the miners of Valdarno to be the first in the world, along with the quarrymen of Carrara, to win the workday of six and a half hours.

It was also common to find foreigners here, often coming from the world of anarchism and antifascism and, in the ‘30s, of young Jews coming from Germany, Poland and Lithuania which participated in agricultural achsciaroth (training camps) made by the Zionist movement in Chianti in preparation for their emigration to Palestine and that here everyone believed to be bundist exiles. Most probably the international knowledge set in motion by the osteria (among which stands out the close friendship with the family of italo-german traders, Fiechter) was instrumental in creating a small high-end commercial network in Northern Europe and to disengage from the previous one linked to the Tuscan emigration to Brazil (Minas Gerais), Argentina and Uruguay.

After the Second World War, the destruction caused by troop movements of the front, together with the end of the sharecropping system and the decrease in the size of the company caused by hereditary divisions, led to a drastic downsizing of the company’s business activities: in practice only acquaintances and friends in Tuscany remained as clients and very few “historical” customers of great prestige in the rest of Italy and in France.

For some years now there has been a constant growth of the activities of the company with the full recovery of the old olive orchards followed by a targeted acquisitions of items of undoubted value, like the beautiful vineyard that belonged for centuries to the family Mannozzi on the hill that faces Badia a Coltibuono, and the farm Piaggia di Nano, located along the initial stretch of the Borro dei Diavoli, which is perhaps the last farm of the whole Chianti tilled entirely by hand (begun in 1920 and finished in the 50’s), and that also has a cypress grove of the early 20th century – known by the name of “Bosco di Melo” (Melo’s forest) – of considerable environmental value for which we are nearing completion of the restoration.

Prince Stanisław Poniatowski (1754-1833), Polish nobleman, commander of the infantry Crown Guards, knight of the Order of the White Eagle, Grand Treasurer of Lithuania, he settled in Florence in 1823 and he and his heirs were owners of the former Abbey of San Lorenzo in Coltibuono
Tribolo and Tribolino are old Tuscan nicknames for children and adults very lively and exuberant. The best known Tribolo (Benvenuto Cellini calls him Tribolino in his Autobiography) was Niccolò di Raffaello di Niccolò dei Pericoli (1497-1550), known as Tribolo, architect, landscape architect and Florentine sculptor, architect of the court of Cosimo I de ‘Medici, designer of the Giardino di Boboli and Giardino dei Semplici.
Attilio Sassi, syndicalist leader first in Brazil and then in Italy, secretary of the bricklayers trade union in Imola (sindacato muratori di Imola), of the peasants trade union in Piacenza (sindacato lavoratori della terra), of the carters trade union (Lega barrocciai) in Crevalcore, of the miners’ trade union in Valdarno di Sopra (Lega dei minatori aderente all’Unione Sindacale Italiana (USI)) and finally the General Secretary of the Italian Federation of Miners and Quarrymen (Federazione Italiana Minatori e Cavatori (FIMC)).
Francesco Raspini, farmer of Castello di Brolio in Gaiole in Chianti, an historical farming estate belonging to the noble Florentine family “Ricasoli”.
Portrait photo of Fiechter spouses, stored at the farm